Thursday, February 12, 2004


If brevity is the soul of wit, then let me be a dullard...


After viewing the brilliant Errol Morris documentary The Fog of War earlier this evening, I'm inspired to set down a few thoughts about the incalculable equations of war, imperialism and violence.

How many deaths in Iraq? If you read the news reports, the totals stand (I apologize for rounding off, the numbers aren't in front of me) at 570 U.S. soldiers dead, a couple of thousand more wounded, untold thousands of Iraqis killed, many thousands more maimed and wounded. But then factor in the "collateral casualties" or the victims of circumstances related to the war but not directly tied to it. All the soldiers who attempted or have committed suicide (a number reported by the New York Times to be now in the dozens). A horrifying escalation in rapes and attempted rapes by American GI's on both fellow soldiers and Iraqis.

But this war is filled with "fuzzy math". The $87 billion additional dollars we will spend on the Iraq occupation--June handover or not--has to come from somewhere. Will it come from the money cut from veteran's benefits that would help the soldiers who come home from the conflict, but will now help them a little bit less? Will it come from educational programs that now have a little bit less money to try and teach schoolchildren about history, geography, politics and civics, lessons that could help us understand the world better, question our leaders more and perhaps prevent future conflicts? Where will the money not come from? It will not come out of the bloated defense budget, which grows every year under Bush and the Republicans, nor will it affect the amount of money given to Halliburton, our colonial, capitalist proxy in Iraq and the previous employer, and prime beneficiary of Vice President Dick Cheney.

I actually don't think Iraq will become another Vietnam. This summer, Bush will trumpet the "orderly handover of authority in Iraq to civilian authorities." Casualities will decline. The horrors of war and it's aftermath will recede from the front pages. People will get caught up in the conventions and the campaigns. Bush and his machine will spend over $100 million to convince the American people he should be reelected and that this war has done great good in the world. Many will be tricked into believing this, setting the stage for more unilateral invasions, more terrorism against the U.S. and U.S. interests, more searches for weapons of mass destruction, more dead American soldiers, more Middle Eastern instability, an incalculable morass of more, more, more and less, less, less.

100 million

87 billion



Just numbers? It's calculus that doesn't add up and math that just doesn't make sense.

"If you come home in a box
Green pants
Green drawers
Green socks
Typical American kid
I think not"
--from the rap song, "Typical American", by The Goats, c. 1993


Week 2 and still no takers on the $1 million sweepstakes to locate the WMD's in Iraq. Hell, it could be a billion dollars and dinner with all of the models in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and I feel pretty confident that no one would ever have to pay up.

One rule though: Donald Rumsfeld doesn't get to play.